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Full text of "HIGHLIGHTS OF SECRETARY MCNAMARA'S TESTIMONY TO THE STENNIS COMMITTEE, 25 AUGUST 1967"

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Highlights of Secretary McNamara's. Testimony to' the 

Stennis Committee, 25 August 1967" ' ' 

Secretary McNamara presented a strong defense of the 
bombing program against North Vietnam. He claimed the program 
had successfully met its limited objectives. He stressed that 
the bombing program is a supplement and not a substitute for an 
effective ground campaign in South Vietnam. 

He noted that 85 percent of the JCS target recommendations 
were authorized for strike. The few not authorized were of minor 
importance or presented risks unacceptable in view of their dubious 
prospects . 

He rejected proposals for escalating the air war -- closing 
the ports, mining the harbors --as untenable in terms of their 
Objectives, as being no more fruitful than the present campaign 
and as involving risks of confrontation with the USSR including the 
risk of direct Soviet intervention. 

The Secretary presented his case by discussing three topics: 

1 * The Objectives and Achievements of the Mr War 

a. The air campaign successfully met its objectives: 

It has raised morale in the South; put a high price on 

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aggression; and has made infiltration more difficult and 
costly. 

b. Complete interdiction of the movement of men and 
supplies has never been considered possible. 

c. The DEV's war making ability is dependent on 
imports of military goods and moving them South -- the 
capacity of the transport system is very large and 
military traffic is very small — 15 tons a day of traffic 
in a pipeline with an outlet of 200 tons a day. 

d . The DRV has had to divert some 500, 000 people to 
cope with air attacks . 

e. The bombing campaign is hurting the DRV's war 
making capability but no campaign, short of one with 
population as a target, can force Hanoi into submission. 

f. No improvement of the air campaign can do much 
more than put a high price tag on aggression. 

II . The Extent to Which JCS Target Recommendations are 
Followed ' " ~~ ™ ' 

a. There are a total of h2J targets -- strikes have 
been recommended against 359 and authorized for 302 (85 $ of the 
total) . 

b. Strikes against the 57 targets not authorized 
will not materially shorten the war. 


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c . For the most part these 57 targets are of little 
importance, and the risks of confrontation exceed the 
military gains resulting from attack of the few important 
ones . 

d. Attacks on the 57 targets would not gain any 
different objectives than those we already have. 

Ill . Proposals for Expanding the Bombings 

a. The proponents of expanding the bombings would 
change our objectives: they believe air power can break 
Hanoi's will or cut off the flow of supplies. They see 
the air war as a substitute rather than a supplement to 
the ground war. 

b. There is no evidence in intelligence that a new 
air campaign can break Hanoi's will. It is the course of 
the ground war rather than the scale of air attack is 
the determining factor in "breaking the will." 

c. A new campaign cannot cut off the flow of 
supplies -- the capacity of Ld)Cs and external sources of 
supply so exceeds the minimal flows necessary that they 
cannot be stopped by air attacks . 

d. The closing of sea and land routes would interfere 
seriously with imports but essential traffic would continue 
to flow. 


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e . An expanded air war can achieve no more than 
our present careful program. 

f. An expanded air war would involve risks too high to 
accept for its dubious prospects . 

g. Mining the harbors would be an act of war in 
the legal sense. Closing the ports could induce a strong 
and unpredictable Soviet reaction -- ranging from in- 
creased material support to direct Soviet intervention 

in t he war . 


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